Skip to content

Main Street America: Expanded UI Benefits Are Crushing Our Hiring Efforts

April 19, 2021

Main Street businesses are having trouble reopening because unemployment insurance benefits have discouraged Americans from returning to work, according to a new NBC Nightly News report.

Yet Democrats are continuing their “War on Work” by refusing to curb these benefits, which have also lost more money to fraud than the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security. (Democrats have refused requests for a hearing.)

NBC Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle interviewed small business employers about the challenges to reopening—noting that “those unemployment benefits have shifted the job market.”

  • Hiring Made Difficult: The report noted that 42 percent of small businesses couldn’t fill positions in March.
  • Customers May Pay the Price: One restaurant owner is not yet able to re-open fully because of the expanded unemployment benefits. “We can only go to a certain point without raising prices.”
  • People Refusing Part-Time Work Means Lost Business: Asked about her difficulty hiring employees, a New York florist says, “That’s a challenge because most people are receiving the benefits they need, and part-time work isn’t going to pay the bills.” As a result, she’s having to turn down businesses, which would normally be her “bread and butter.”

These comments reflect a growing body of evidence showing how difficult it is for small businesses to hire and to reopen with these expanded benefits. Main Street employers shared similar experiences during a public Ways and Means panel hosted by Republican Leader for the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

The Washington Post’s Henry Olson notes that so long as these expanded payments are in the picture, this could remain a problem:

“People on unemployment currently receive a supplemental federal payment of $300 a week on top of their normal state benefits regardless of their prior earnings. Given the relatively low earnings many restaurants and other service industry workers typically receive, they are likely to make as much or more by not working than they would if they returned to their jobs. That means they have little incentive to get back to work, which may even make them less likely to get vaccinated to begin with.

Democrats rejected a GOP proposal that would have allowed states with low unemployment to take the funding for the additional benefit and instead use it to provide a “bonus” that would reward workers who return to work. Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady recently re-introduced his “Return to Work Bonus” legislation in March.